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The comedian Jeff Foxworthy became famous with his routine, "You might be a redneck if . . . " Here are some of my favorites:
You might be a redneck if the directions to your house include the phrase "turn off the paved road".
You might be a redneck if your front porch collapses and four dogs get killed.
You might be a redneck if you took a fishing pole to Sea World.
You might be a redneck if you have to go outside to get something out of the ’fridge.
You might be a redneck if your dad walks you to school because you’re both in the same grade.
You might be a redneck if you have flowers planted in a bathroom fixture in your front yard.
You might be a redneck if you think the last words to the Star Spangled Banner are, "Gentlemen, start your engines."
Likewise, you might be a Pharisee if you spend a more time talking about the sins of others than you do in repenting and confessing your own.
Heaven, an Inheritance
Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going... I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:1-4, 6)
The Holy Scriptures teach clearly that heaven is a real place, a permanent place, a personal place and a holy place. It is also an inheritance for those who say "yes" to Jesus Christ.
In his gospel, the beloved John conveys a powerful truth of what one must become in order to inherit eternal salvation. "...I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." (John 3:3) And once more, "...You must be born again." (John 3:7) Twice Jesus tells Nicodemus, already a Pharisee and religious leader, "I tell you the truth..."
The truth for you is that a preacher saying nice things, nor beautiful hymns being sung at your funeral, nor the local paper announcing that you were a member of such and such church, nor even being in church nearly every Sunday will gain you entrance into heaven. Being truly born again is a necessity.
Many Scripture passages tell what God will do for a person who through repentance accepts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Ezekiel 36: 26, 27 is one of the most clear. It has been used frequently by Dr. Billy Graham to explain what God wants to do in the hearts and lives of those coming forward to receive the forgiveness found only in Christ. The verses say, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep my laws."
A "heart of stone" is inflexible, unyielding and insensitive. It is not apt to receive from or have any devoted affection toward its Creator. A man with a heart of stone has no fellowship with the Lord. He does not do the will of God, thus, he does what seems right in his own eyes which will lead to his own destruction. God alone gives physical life and He alone can give spiritual life in what Jesus says is being "born again."
When God supernaturally gives a repentant person a "heart of flesh" and puts His Spirit in a new believer, that person becomes sensitive and alive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Only then can he determine and do the will of God. This enables him to know the joy that comes from obedience to the Word of God. Once the Holy Spirit of God has entered the heart and life of a repentant person, they are never the same! Guaranteed! The Bible says they are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Jesus made these truths very clear to Nicodemus, and He desires to make them crystal clear to all who will hear even now. In heaven there will be only those who are born again, those who have trusted Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord.
The Holy Spirit moved the apostle Paul to write to (and about) authentic Christians, "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." (Romans 8:9)
Will you receive Christ today?
Dr. David Nichols states, "There must be a difference between the knowledge that comes from the gathering of information, and that which comes by revelation. The Pharisees and Sadducees had the best information anyone could have in their day. If you asked them, they would tell you they were in touch with revelation, as well. But when revelation of the fullness of God stood in front of them with skin on, they called Him Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24)...How can this be? How can people who are trained in the Scriptures, some of whom are even anointed by God to perform their ministry, deny the revelation of the Son of God? There is a kind of zeal in the teaching gift when it is not submitted to apostolic and prophetic authority that is destructive. This zeal combines itself with pride in knowledge to oppose what cannot be controlled. And Jesus could not be controlled by the religious hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Neither could the apostles in the book of Acts...In Acts chapter 1, Jesus handed off the task of advancing the Kingdom to His followers."
(Page 17, 18 Who’s In Charge?)
Dr. S.M. Lockridge was the Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, San Diego CA from 1953 - 1993. He entered heaven in 2000. He is well-known for a passage out of his sermon titled “He’s My King”:
“He’s enduringly strong, He’s entirely sincere, He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. He’s God’s Son. He’s a sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s preeminent. He’s the loftiest idea in literature. He’s the highest idea in philosophy. He’s the fundamental truth in theology. He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He guards and He guides. He heals the sick, He cleans the lepers. He forgives sinners, He discharges debtors, He delivers captives, He defends the feeble, He blesses the young, He serves the unfortunate, He regards the aged, He rewards the diligent, He beautifies the meek. Do you know Him?
Well, my king is the king of knowledge, He’s the well-spring of wisdom, He’s the doorway of deliverance, He’s the pathway of peace, He’s the roadway of righteousness, He’s the highway of holiness He’s the gateway of glory, He’s the master of the mighty, He’s the captain of the conquerors, He’s the head of the heroes, He’s the leader of the legislators, He’s the overseer of the overcomers, He’s the governor of governors, He’s the prince of princes, He’s the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
His life is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Well. I wish I could describe Him to you. But He’s indescribable. Yes. He’s incomprehensible. He’s invincible, He’s irresistible. I’m trying to tell you, the Heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him. Well. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate coul...
Swindoll notes "The Grace Awakening:
But when “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ,” a long-awaited revolution of the heart began to set religious captives free. Fear-full bondage motivated by guilt was replaced with a fresh motivation to follow Him in truth simply out of deep devotion and delight. Rather than focusing on the accomplishments of the flesh, He spoke of the heart. Instead of demanding that the sinner fulfill a long list of requirements, he emphasized faith, if only the size of a mustard seed. The change spelled freedom, as the Lord himself taught, “…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Rigid, barren religion was, at last, replaced by a grace-orientated, relationship-liberating grace. His followers loved it. His enemies hated it… and Him. Without a doubt, the earliest grace killers were the Pharisees (10).
For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org
When Jesus said these words later in Matthew (11:28-30), we see grace, “All you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The yoke literally was what the oxen wore as they plowed the field. But in Jewish culture, it was a symbol of a Rabbi’s teaching.
When Jesus said these words, he was telling us that his teachings are not meant to be a burden like the teachings of the Pharisees that follow all these lists and rules and regulations in order not to sin. His teachings bring life. They bring a life of knowing God and hearing His voice, which is what Jesus says in John’s Gospel as the very definition of eternal life” knowing God. Jesus’ yoke is not meant to weigh us down even though they seem to be such a higher standard than the Law. It is because they are driven by love. God’s love in us as we love others with the love of God. Love is supposed to free us. Judging, comparing ourselves to others, and striving after stuff, puts us in bondage
REPENTANCE AND BAPTISM
Steve Atkerson states: "John the Baptist explicitly stated the purpose of his baptism when he said, 'I baptize you with water for repentance' (Mt 3:11). Did John baptize them so that they could repent or because they already had repented? That is, was John's baptism a means to repentance or the result of repentance?
In both English and Greek, "for" (eis) can refer to either an objective (I left "for" home ) or a cause (I cried "for" joy). In Mt 3:11, "for" denotes a cause; John's baptism came because they had already repented. It was an outward sign of an inward act. When many of the Pharisees came to be baptized, John condemned them as a "brood of vipers" because they had not yet repented (Mt 3:7-10). Thus, when Luke wrote that John was "preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (3:3), he meant that John's baptism was symbolic of a person's repentance in order to be forgiven. It was not a "baptism for forgiveness" but rather a baptism that expressed "repentance for forgiveness."
Incidentally, "repent" is from metanoia and means "a change of thinking." As such, it is a close parallel to faith; one never occurs without the other. John urged men to change their thinking about sin (Mt 3:6) and to believe in the one coming after him, that is Jesus (Jn 1:6-9; Ac 19:4).
SERVICE REQUIRES ACTION
A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get himself out.
A subjective person came along and said, "I feel for you down there."
An objective person walked by and said, "It’s logical that someone would fall down there."
A Pharisee said, "Only bad people fall into pits."
A mathematician calculated how deep the pit was.
A news reporter wanted the exclusive story on the pit.
An IRS agent asked if he was paying taxes on the pit.
A self-pitying person said, "You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit."
A fire-and-brimstone preacher said, "You deserve your pit."
A Christian Scientist observed, "The pit is just in your mind."
A psychologist noted, "Your mother and father are to blame for your being in that pit."
A self-esteem therapist said, "Believe in yourself and you can get out of that p...
As a Pharisee Paul had dedicated his life to the scrupulous observance of his religion. John Wesley would have had much in common with Paul. When he was a young man at Oxford University he founded the "Holy Club" with the intention that he and his friends should live well-ordered lives in God’s service, and yet he was still some years away from coming into a real relationship with Jesus as his personal Saviour. But one had to admire the standards of both Paul and John Wesley.
Construction workers attempt to use God to take what is Caesars. (Matt 22:15-21)
In the late 1970’s large numbers of skilled construction workers, commonly referred to as “Boomers”, traveled the country looking for work on electric power plant maintenance projects. These were short-term (4-8 weeks), high-overtime (60-70 hours a week) projects.
The Boomers loved the overtime, but hated to pay taxes. So they came up with a scheme. Suddenly, our payroll department noticed something unusual about the W-4’s many of the Boomers were filling out at time of hire. As you know for most people the normal number of tax exemptions is 2, 3, 4 or so depending on family size. The higher the number of exemptions, the less tax is withheld from the weekly paycheck. These Boomers were filing W-4’s with 99 exemptions, which had the effect of eliminating any tax withholding from their paycheck.
Needless to say, the IRS took exception to this practice and required these workers to justify their claim of exemption from withholding taxes.
The Boomers were ready for the IRS. Each promptly produced a letter/certificate from a so-called School of Theology in Illinois which declared the Boomer to be an ordained minister. The Boomer’s letter was on stationary from the Church of This or the Church of That in Illinois, professing that he/she was the pastor of that church and that all labor was rendered in the name of God and all earnings belonged to the Church and were therefore tax exempt.
Well, the IRS didn’t buy that either and the scheme was squashed.
The Boomers were not unlike the Pharisees. They wanted to use God to deny Caesar what is Caesars. The boomers were just greedy. The Pharisees were greedy too, but mostly wanted to trap Jesus. BIG MISTAKE!! Jesus set them all straight and sets us straight by commanding us to “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s”. We, like Jesus, are not OF this world, but we are IN this world. Thus we are called be both good citizens and good Christians.